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Guest Blog: Sandy's visit to Umubano Primary

Our guest blogger this month is Sandy Ramdas, a International Education Masters student who recently visited Umubano Primary School in Kigali.

When I first embarked on my MA in International Education Development (MAIED) at the University of Sussex in September 2015, I had no idea that nine months later that APIE and Umubano Primary School would be the focus of my dissertation research.

The school inclusion policy is at its heart and welcomes children of all abilities, disabilities and backgrounds. My research is exploring the quality of education that is provided by this school within the local community.

I was walking to school on the second morning and got quite lost. This mini-adventure gave me an insight into the area. I discovered that there were a number of schools within a square mile of Umubano Primary School. I also noticed that there were a large number of children who did not appear to be going to school and wondered why that was the case.

My research gave me the privilege of interviewing parents of children who attend Umubano School. I also observed lessons and interviewed four teachers and the Head Teacher. Interviews with Amy, the APIE Country Director and Angie Kotler, APIE CEO, gave me insight into the progress that has been made in regards to inclusive education at Umubano and hopes for the future of the school.

I found out that the children who attend this school and have special educational needs are supported by teachers who are motivated and are being trained to make the curriculum accessible to them. This includes learning how to adapt, make and use resources that accommodate special educational needs.

The parents I interviewed - with the help of an interpreter - all said that their children would not have been helped in such a caring way in other schools. They even may not have been able to go to school at all. There are families who receive a scholarship from APIE which pays for school fees. Without this scholarship these families would not be able receive the quality of education offered at Umubano Primary School.

I was very happy to be able to offer some specialist training to the nursery teachers on my last day at the school. I was there first and foremost as a researcher. I am however, also a UK registered Speech and Language Therapist. We worked together to develop some helpful resources that would help the children with learning classroom routines such as visual timetables. We also developed some educational goals for one of the pupils who has autism.

Specialist resources are hard to come by in Rwanda for all children. APIE is committed to working in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Education to share the good practice of the inclusive education model with other schools as inclusion is now a national commitment as per SDG…..and APIE’s role is to support this commitment.

I am in the process of writing up my research for my Masters dissertation. It is coming together slowly but surely. I would like to offer my special thanks to all of the Umubano Primary School community for allowing me into their school. It was a thoroughly enjoyable field visit and I will continue to follow the development of this school with interest.

- Sandy Ramdas, August 2016

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